Employers must maintain certain records to comply with federal, state, and local laws and to help administer HR policies and practices. While hiring, leave, performance and discipline forms may be commonplace, COVID-19 has added new notice obligations for employers. Here are 10 types of forms to consider for your workplace:
#1: Pre-employment forms
Many employers use application forms, candidate evaluation forms, and checklists to help identify qualified candidates during the pre-hire process. It's important to review these forms regularly to ensure that they comply with applicable laws. For instance, several state and local jurisdictions have prohibited employers from asking about pay history and certain other information on application forms.
#2: Required new hire forms
Employees must complete paperwork at the time of hire, including a Form W-4 and a Form I-9, and employers must provide certain notices to new hires. For instance, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers must provide a Notice of Coverage Options to all new hires within 14 days of their start date. Many states and local jurisdictions also require that employers provide specific notices to employees at the time of hire. For example, California requires employers to provide new hires with notices related to state disability insurance, paid family leave, workers' compensation, and other employment-related protections. Provide new hire notices in accordance with your state and local requirements.
#3: Receipt of company property
If you provide employees with equipment, tools, or other company property, use this form to document what was provided to the employee. This can help ensure that all property is returned and accounted for at the time of separation.
#4: Handbook acknowledgments
After providing new hires with a copy of your employee handbook, ask them to sign a form acknowledging that they have received and are responsible for complying with all company policies. Make sure you give employees enough time to read and ask questions about the handbook before they are required to sign the acknowledgment form. Obtain signed acknowledgments when you first issue the handbook, at the time of hire for new employees, and whenever you make changes to the handbook.
#5: Leave of absence
When possible, ask employees to submit requests for time off or other types of leave in writing. Where leave is required under law, the government agency responsible for enforcement may provide sample forms. For instance, the Department of Labor provides sample forms for leave requests covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In response to COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers and agencies have approved new leave requirements for employees impacted by COVID-19. Be sure that your leave-request forms have kept pace. For instance, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) temporarily entitles employees to emergency paid sick leave and public health emergency/expanded FMLA leave. For the purposes of tax credits associated with FFCRA leave, employers must obtain and retain certain documentation.
#6: COVID-19 notices
In addition to considering new leave requirements, employers should evaluate whether they need additional forms and notices to address COVID-19. For instance, state or local orders may require employers to provide a notice to employees about safety protocols that are implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as social-distancing and face-covering requirements. These notices may need to be provided to employees and/or posted in the workplace. Additionally, if you're conducting COVID-19 screening on employees before they enter the workplace, you may be required to obtain authorization from employees first. Depending on your circumstances, you may also consider daily health attestations, a notice of potential exposure to COVID-19, or a notice of recall after a furlough.
#7: Reasonable accommodation requests
Under certain laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with a disability, or sincerely held religious beliefs and practices, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the business. Some states have similar requirements that apply to smaller employers, and some states have laws that require accommodations in additional circumstances, such as when an employee has a pregnancy-related condition. While employees aren't required to make these requests in writing (or even use the term "reasonable accommodation"), make sure you thoroughly document the request, any follow-up discussions, and the resulting accommodation, if any.
#8: Performance and discipline
Document all performance and disciplinary events, whether positive or negative. This includes annual performance reviews, rewards and recognitions, promotions, and disciplinary action, including written and oral warnings and performance improvement plans.
#9: Business expenses
If employees travel for work, or incur other business-related expenses, have them maintain an expense log and submit reimbursement requests in writing. With more employees continuing to work remotely, you may want to review your reimbursement policy to make sure it accounts for any additional expenses that employees may incur.
#10: Termination forms
The termination process is a delicate one for employers. Not only is there the human factor that makes it difficult to let someone go, but it also comes with risk of complaints and lawsuits. Consider using a checklist to help manage the process and ensure that you follow all appropriate steps, including documenting the reason for separation, complying with final pay requirements, providing the employee with benefits information, furnishing state-required required separation notices and forms, and ensuring the return of company property.
The above is an overview of commonly used HR forms. Your size, location, and industry may dictate whether you must provide additional written information to employees. When making this determination, consider your business needs as well as all applicable laws. Depending on the nature of the form, documents should either be retained in the employee's personnel file, or a separate confidential file.